Once upon a time...
(Isn't that how all good stories are supposed to begin?)
There was a bulldozer and a butterfly. They were close friends. They were so very different, though. No one could understand how they could be such good friends. There were even times they asked themselves how the friendship could have blossomed into such a lovely arrangement.
The bulldozer was strong and confident, sometimes loud. The bulldozer was a mover and shaker. She accomplished many things, and her favorite things were neatly organizing mountains, creating straight roads, and being productive.
The butterfly was quiet and happy, flitting from here to there, bringing joy and beauty to everyone she lighted upon. She was sensitive and kind, gentle and fragile. She loved bright, happy colors and happy orange pumpkins. Her favorite things to do were to enjoy sunshine and to bring smiles to those she encountered.
There could not have been more opposite friends, and yet they treasured each other dearly.
This story is actually a true story. Well, it's not literally true, but it is about two very real and extremely opposite friends serving on the same mission field.
If you haven't guessed, I am the bulldozer. The butterfly is a fellow missionary wife and treasured friend serving here in the same country as me.
We are as different as night and day. Yet we have a thriving friendship. How is that possible? After all, missionaries on the field often struggle to get along in general, much less ones who are so different!
Cultivating a Bulldozer Butterfly Friendship
Appreciate DifferencesMy friend is beautiful like a butterfly. She is a flutter of generosity, hospitality, and compassion. She has the ability to truly weep with those who weep. If someone is hurting, she aches with them. People come to her to pour out their hearts, seeking encouragement and hope in their crisis. I imagine the Shunemite woman who prepared Elisha's chamber was much like my butterfly friend. (2 Kings 4) The Shunemite woman thought of everything to make Elisha's visits pleasant. The chamber was perfectly set up for his needs.
Me? I am whirlwind of activity: organizing, planning, preparing. I love the physical labor that often comes with ministry. I love the schedules and calendars. People often come to me for practical counsel.
"How do you balance home and ministry?"
"Do you have homeschooling advice?"
"I need help being more consistent in my devotions."
I imagine Phebe was probably a bulldozer, working behind the scenes to get things done and assist Paul and other believers. (Romans 16:1-2)
Butterflies and bulldozers each have a beauty of their own. They minister differently. God designed them for specific ways to serve Him. Do not compare butterflies and bulldozers in their individual ministries. When we do that we devalue both. Appreciate the differences.
Identify Potential WeaknessesAlong with beautiful strengths also comes potential weaknesses. Bulldozers, in their excitement and zeal, tend to push and run over people. They may have great intentions, but their approach is sometimes overbearing and aggressive. As a bulldozer, I have often had to apologize for these kinds of actions. Sometimes it presents itself as unsolicited counsel or advice. Sometimes its taking control when I shouldn't. Sometimes it's a lack of meekness and compassion.
Butterflies tend to perceive injury when injury was not intended. They are sensitive to the needs of others, but they are also tenderhearted. That leaves them vulnerable to being wounded easily. They tend to be more passive and avoid conflict.
Bulldozers can run over butterflies, and butterflies can be intimidated by bulldozers. But if they both recognize their own weaknesses, they can learn from each other and make a beautiful team. Bulldozers can learn from butterfly friends to be more sensitive to the needs of others. Butterflies can learn from bulldozer friends to be more confident.
Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpeneth iron;
so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Embrace the Ministry of ConfrontationConfrontation? A ministry?
Absolutely! Most people do not enjoy confrontation. But when there is division, injury, or sin, God's Word teaches us to go to that person. It's really the ministry of restoration and reconciliation. The goal is to help bring the person back in fellowship with either the Lord or yourself.
Be careful though. Butterflies tend to avoid confrontation while bulldozers tend to confront without meekness.
I love the counsel God's Word gives:
Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Butterflies, God's Word teaches us to confront.
Bulldozers, God's Word teaches us to confront in meekness.
And the key is "ye which are spiritual." When we walk in the Spirit, we will embrace the ministry of confrontation because we realize it is the ministry of reconciliation.
If you want to flourish in a bulldozer/butterfly friendship, you have to learn to talk things out the right way when division creeps in. Good communication is key to any relationship.
And they lived happily ever after...
That's how good stories end. And this one is no different. My butterfly friend and I will live happily ever after. Christ is preparing a place for us. That's the unifying factor that helps our relationship grow. We may be complete opposites, but we have some things in common. Christ died for us. His blood cleansed us. We have the same heavenly Father and are part of God's family. The same Spirit dwells in us both. Our hearts are both thrilled by serving our amazing Saviour. I sure am glad we get to do it on the same field.
So, which one are you? Are you a bulldozer or a butterfly... or a crazy combination of both?